Orange Dems nominate former U.N. official to challenge Zeoli

Margaret Novicki
Margaret Novicki

ORANGE >> A retired United Nations official who grew up in Orange and returned in 2013, will be the Democratic candidate for first selectman in the November election.

“I love this town — it’s in my blood. It would be a privilege to serve the Orange community,” said the candidate, Margaret Novicki.

“I’ve been motivated all my life by wanting to make a contribution for the greater good. I would like to use all the experience I’ve gained over my career to make Orange an even better place to raise our families.”

Republicans have not announced their candidates and six-term incumbent First Selectman Jim Zeoli was noncommittal in an email.

“I am considering a run for another term,” he said.

Novicki has been married 27 years to Amadou Ndiaye, a retired dancer who had his own dance troupe, and the two have a son, Thomas, 24, a 2016 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.


Novicki said she’s not coming into the campaign with a list of problems to fix, but will let voters tell her what they want when she and her team knock on doors.

As a communications executive at the U.N., she learned to listen, Novicki said, and hopes to bring that skill to the first selectman post.

Novicki said she also has a strong management skills — she ran offices with 325 people — and large and small budgets during her tenure at United Nations.

Her goal is to move the town forward at the direction of voters, Novicki said.

Jody Dietch, chairwoman of the Democratic Town Committee, said Novicki has much to offer residents and she was “unanimously” and “enthusiastically” endorsed by the party.

“Her international experience allows her to connect with all the residents of our ever-growing diverse town,” Dietch said. “Her leadership experience makes her one of the most qualified candidates ever to run for first selectman.”

Dietch said at the same time, Novicki is a “home-grown Orange resident” who understands what it means to be part of the community.

Novicki retired from the United Nations in May after serving 22 years, including 12 at the headquarters in New York and a decade in four African countries.

She lived in Orange with her three siblings and her late parents, Ted and Martha Novicki, and the family was active in the community. Two of her brothers still reside here.


It was in an Orange school that Novicki believes her love of international life and awareness of the “bigger world” was fostered by a special sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Martin.

Martin was a world traveler who brought coins back from the countries she visited. She gave coins to students as rewards and tell them to “go find out about that country,” Novicki said.


Novicki earned a Bachelor of Science from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C., in 1977. In 1979, she earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs.

Novicki held several positions at the U.N., retiring as head of the Strategic Communications Division, managing 63 U.N. information offices worldwide.

She led communications campaigns on key issues, such as human rights, sustainable development, climate change, gender equality and peacekeeping.

From 1998 to 2008, Novicki served in Africa, heading the information offices in Ghana and South Africa. She was spokeswoman for the U.N.’s 15,000 peacekeepers in Liberia and Sierra Leone, then the largest peacekeeping operations in the world that ended civil wars in the two nations.